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Using a list of common aliases and keywords for all answers
Answer ID 1995   |   Last Review Date 01/08/2019

How can I define a global list of keywords to use when searching all of my answers?




When I add keywords to individual answers, I find that I have to add the same group of keywords to lots of my answers in the knowledge base. It would be better to define a global list of keywords to use when searching all of my answers.


You can use aliases (synonyms) to enhance searching. Adding aliases lets you link terms that are specific to your industry or organization to similar terms your customers may search for. For example, a customer might search for an acronym, such as "GPS", but all of your answers regarding GPS might spell out the full term "global positioning system". Creating an alias word list lets you link these two terms and save time because you need to create this link only once instead of adding it as a keyword to multiple answers.

In this example, you would add the following line to the aliases.txt file.


You can use the aliases.txt file to define business-specific synonyms to be used with all end-user searches performed on your answers. The aliases.txt file allows you to define a global list of synonyms to be applied to all your answers. The aliases.txt file contains no default alias terms. To use this capability, you must customize the file with the terms you want.

To access the aliases.txt file, from the File Manager change the Switch To menu to be wordlist files and click the file name.

By adding content to your aliases.txt file, you can effectively define synonyms used for searching. This greatly reduces the need to add similar groups of keywords to the Keywords field of several individual answers.

AND vs. OR Searching: Multiple-word aliases will not work if the ANS_AND_SEARCH configuration setting is enabled. If enabled, searches on the end-user pages are treated as Boolean "AND" searches. If disabled, searches on the end-user pages are treated as Boolean "OR" searches.

Weight Values: If you configure aliases in your aliases.txt file, the matched weights for aliases depend on the version your site is running.

Aliased words are matched with the same weight as the indexed word.  This means that answers that match alias terms may receive a higher weight than you expect due to an alias being matched.

Multiple interfaces:  Within the File Manager, files located in the wordlist menu are not interface specific. Each file is language specific.  That is, if two interfaces in your site have the same language pack applied, those interfaces share the same wordlist files. 

As a result, when you create aliases, if your site has another interface that uses the same language pack, the aliases are defined for both interfaces. For example, if two interfaces both have the en_US language pack applied, if you add words to the aliases.txt file for one interface, those words are also aliased when searching in the other interface that uses the en_US language.

Defining your aliases: When adding lines to the aliases.txt file, each line in the file is set up to mean:

IF the first word in the line is used as the search word, THEN return answers containing that word or any of the other words on that line.

That is, the first word on each line of the alias file is the search word that your site visitor might search on. The additional words (in the non-first position) are the synonyms that are in your answers. Answers that include these aliases are returned when a user searches on the first word in the entry.

Each line in the aliases.txt file defines the synonyms that will be returned when the user searches on the first word. This means that you must enter a separate line for EACH WORD that you want to define synonyms for.

Word stemming:  Word stemming is not applied automatically to the aliased word.  For example, if you alias "pick" with "select", the entry in the aliases.txt file is:


If you search on "pick", answers with pick, picks, picked, and picking are returned based on the normal searching functionality.  In addition, due to the alias, answers that contain select, selects, selected, and selecting are also returned.

However, if you search on "picks", only answers that share that same word stem (pick, picked, picking) are returned with the search results.  The alias does not apply because an alias is not defined for the specific word PICKS.

Considerations when defining aliases: When you add lines to the aliases.txt file, take into account the following:

  1. The search term cannot contain ampersands or slashes. The search term can include hyphens. 
  2. All entries must be in CAPITAL LETTERS.
  3. The first entry is the search the customer can enter, and it must be without ampersands, or slashes, although it may contain a hyphen. The other terms in the line can contain spaces, so you can use phrases as synonyms for the search word. Use a comma delimiter with NO SPACE between the search terms. For example: GPS,GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM,NAVIGATIONAL SYSTEM
  4. If using acronyms, use all capital letters, with no periods, and a comma between the acronyms.
  5. Alias words score very highly in search results therefore answers with multiple alias words may always appear on top.
  6. The aliases.txt file is shared by all interfaces on a site with a common language.

Example 1: Within the Oracle B2C Service Support site, there are several answers that have "email" within the answer content. There are also several other answers that have "e-mail" in them due to menu headings or product names. To alias "email" and "e-mail", we added two lines to the aliases.txt file as depicted below, so that a user can search on either term and get all answers back that contain "email" or "e-mail".


The top entry allows users to search on "email" and answers that have "e-mail" in them are returned. Similarly, the second entry allows users to search on "e-mail" and all of the answers that have "email" in them are returned due to the aliasing.

Example 2: Other aliases that we have defined for the Oracle B2C Service Support site is for "meta-answers", "metaanswers", and "meta answers". Since the published answers only include the spelling that has the hyphen (meta-answers), we only need to list that single value in the non-first position for each entry.

As a result, the aliasing entries are provided below:


In this example, the top entry allows users to search on "metaanswers" as all one word and all of the answers that have the hyphenated term in them are returned with the search. In the second line, since spaces are not allowed in the first position, we chose to include the term "meta" as the aliasing element so that if users search on "meta" or "meta answers", all of the answers with the hyphenated terms are returned in the search results.

Note: With this configuration for aliasing "meta" with "meta-answers", if someone searches on "meta data", all of the "meta-answer" answers will be returned with the search results.